Pickles & Pumpkins

Me dressed for a chilly fall morning!

Aside from the rustic jars you find at a cute farmer’s market or treats you might buy at a fall fair, pickles are obviously not what comes to mind when you think of October and the Halloween season.
I know this.

But my garden cucumbers came a little late and I had to wait to have enough to use to make these pickles.
And I really wanted to make them, because I did in 2018, and two jars were so incredible, they quite possibly could have been the best pickles I’ve ever had.

Actually, I only had one of those jars – I ended up giving the other to a friend, and she loved them so much, she still raves about their amazing flavor.
They were super spicy and dilly. Just the perfect combination.
I wanted to recreate those delicious “cukes” of heavenly hotness.

Well, spoiler alert: That didn’t happen.

This time around, I did something, or someTHINGS, that really altered the flavor.
Decreased it even I should say, because after waiting two weeks to eat them (like I did two years ago), the pickles still had a lingering cucumber taste. As if the brine wasn’t strong enough.
They weren’t nearly as spicy as I expected them to be; they just weren’t the same as my 2018 batch.

I’m not sure where I went wrong; it could be a number of factors I suppose.
I didn’t have any mustard seed, so I used mustard powder instead and that was probably a no-no. The cloudiness it created in the jar definitely wasn’t an appealing effect.
I also chopped up onions and added them in, which I can’t remember if I did last time.
I thought it would enhance the flavor, but now I’m just wondering if I made another mistake that ruined it.

I honestly don’t know what it was, but I do still have another jar waiting to be opened and I’ll see if more developing time made a difference at all.
Two weeks was just right with my novice pickling job, so it could be that these are merely a fail on my part. I’m not on the ball with a lot of things lately. But it is, well, 2020.

I am posting a recipe anyway – what I believe to be truer to my “2018 pickles.”

Enjoy, and I hope to post more Halloweenish recipes soon!

Spicy Dill Refrigerator Pickles (for a 1-quart jar)

– 4 or 5 medium-sized cucumbers, washed and quartered lengthwise

– 2 or 3 cloves garlic, peeled

– 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

– 1/2 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds

– about 20 black peppercorns

– 2 fresh dill sprigs

– 1 jalapeno pepper

– 1 cup distilled white vinegar

– 1 cup water

– 2 to 3 teaspoons pickling salt (or 1 tablespoon kosher salt can be used)

You will also need:

– a 1-quart jar with lid and ring (cleaned and dried)

– canning funnel

Add the spices to the jars: Place the garlic, red pepper flakes, peppercorns and mustard seeds in the jar.

Place the jar on its side. Place the sprigs of dill down first, followed by the jalapeno pepper, then stack the cucumbers in the jar. Pack the jar as tightly as possible.

Make the pickling brine: Combine the vinegar, water, and salt in a small saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil. Using a canning funnel, pour the brine over the cucumbers, filling the jar to within 1/2 inch of the top. You might not use all the brine.

Remove the air bubbles: Gently tap the jars against the counter a few times to remove all the air bubbles. Top off with more pickling brine if needed. Place the lids over the jars and screw on the rings until tight.

Let the jars cool to room temperature. Store the pickles in the refrigerator. The pickles will improve with flavor as they age — try to wait at least 48 hours before cracking them open.

Storage: These pickles are not canned and can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 months. If you process and can the jars, they can be stored at room temperature unopened.

Recipe Source: I used inspiration from “The Kitchn” and “The Creekside Cook” to create this pickle recipe.

~ Photos from this past Sunday at the pumpkin patch ~


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